Saturday, December 31, 2011

Instant Cure

If you wait long enough, the DSM will simply edit you out.
Miss Bender is not a clinician, or medically trained to any degree.  She is simply an enthusiastic spinster with literary training and an obsession for deconstructing text...

Like new sports in the Olympics, and slang in the American Heritage Dictionary, society awaits the generational sweep-up of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders .  Version 5 is upon us!
Oooh, it feels like Christmas.

Who's Out:  It's the social register you are glad excludes you, and with Version 5 the following Disorders are being redefined.

Mental Retardation.  Well, what do you know about that.  Intellectual Developmental Disorder will no longer be coded mild, moderate, severe, profound by IQ range.

Autism Spectrum Disorders will be more specifically identified, over DSM-IV, including the simple, but key description: "Symptoms together limit and impair everyday functioning."  Limit and impair, which means you high functioning austistic types just became less autistic.  On the other hand, you might now be obsessive/compulsive, so stick with the devil you know, I say....

My favorite sentence from the APA might be that the current "criteria [for austism] were equivalent to trying to “cleave meatloaf at the joints”.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder no longer limited to body fat or weight.  This is not specified in Version IV, but apparently assumed, since Version 5 stipulates, "appearance preoccupations are not restricted to concerns with body fat or weight in an eating disorder."  

Blanket Narcissism (what I call the Ass-tism Spectrum, or.. no more meds for being a general jerk).  Version 5 puts the screws to narcissists just where they want them, but making it more about them.  To appreciate the big change to our friend T-05, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you can study the current diagnosis, which emphasizes a "pattern of behavior,"  against the proposed revision, which emphasizes the results of those patterns, to self and interpersonal relationships.  Says the APA, "Impairments in the self and interpersonal domains were deemed by the Work Group to be most characteristic of personality disorders."

Gender Identity Disorder is renamed Gender Dysphoria, and for an interesting look into identity, read the Rationale for the change, which was originally proposed as "Gender Incongruence" until a consult from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

 "disorder" has a specific clinical definition, which is,
A clinically significant  behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual [which is] associated with present distress...[and is not]  merely an expectable and culturally sanctioned response to a particular event...
In the case of Gender Dysmorphia,  also note that the Sexual and Identity Disorders Workgroup stated
We also debated and discussed the merit of placing this condition in a special category apart from...psychiatric diagnoses to reflect its unusual status as a mental condition treated with cross-sex hormones, gender reassignment surgery, and social and legal transition to the desired gender.... We chose not to make any decision between its categorization as a psychiatric or a medical condition and wished to avoid jeopardizing either insurance coverage or treatment access (Drescher, 2010).  (emphasis is again mine.  None else italicizes quite this much.)

Childhood Gender Identity Disorder  is severely specified as a mental illness as 6 of 8 traits must now be present to classify as Gender Dysphoria in Children, where DSM-IV requires only 4 of 5 traits, and does not include the statement "clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning, or with a significantly increased risk of suffering, such as distress or disability."
 (those italics were actually already there)

DSM-5 may revive the definition of "disorder" as well, thanks to the worst-named workteam in the world of corporate bureaucracy, the Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive, Posttraumatic, and Dissociative Disorders Work Group.

I hope they ordered mugs.
Next time you think your little mission statement task force spends too much time arguing over its acronym, you might just let them take their time.

The committee of the sad would like to tweak this language somewhat; for example "reflects an underlying psychobiological dysfunction" rather than "is a manifestation of..."    That sort of thing.

So....What's In:
Obsessive-Compulsives, this is your time! Skin-Picking Disorder and Hoarding -- now rate their own entries!

Exhibitionists, you've become so diversified that we need Types for you:   
Sexually Attracted to Exposing Genitals to Pubescent or Prepubescent Individuals (Generally Younger Than Age 15)
Sexually Attracted to Exposing Genitals to Physically Mature Individuals (Generally Age 15 or Older)
Equally Sexually Attracted to Exposing Genitals to Both Age Groups

You must be so proud...

Unspecified Depressive Disorder - still under review, but on the table for Version 5.  In case Big Pharma can not reach you on one of the 8 other categories (including Premenstrual Dysphoria, so watch your "edginess."  That's also a clinical term), they may soon have a catch-all bucket for you.

Medical codes for Agoraphobia!  It's all about the coding for you and your IN'sharns company.  In exchange, you must now be agoraphobic for more than 6 months, it must impair your functioning (WoW does not qualify),  and you have to test out of 5 other disorders first (which is true today).

Back to Body Dysmorphia, proposed revision would include repetitive behaviors in response to the dysmorphia, which at a stretch could include cosmetic surgeries.

Dyslexia - was always in there, but called "Reading Disorder."  In addition to its new name, it aligns better with IDEA regulations, which address achievement potential in people with learning disabilities, a potential DSM-IV does not recognize. And for those of us in the adaptive technologies and access game, the removal of "comprehension" as one of the reading difficulties associated with dyslexia is a major win.  With the right access to the written word, people with dyslexia comprehend just fine.

As for the switch to Arabic numerals, the APA has gone digital with the rest of American Medicine -- this allows them to make point revisions like 5.2 and 5.3, which translate better than IV-TR did.  Because no one could figure out what number TR was.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Other people's houses

Other people's houses are cozy and comfortable.
Your house is full of chores and clutter.

Other people's cable is escapist, surprising, nostalgic.
Your cable is full of stupid repeats.

Other people's pets are affectionate and adorable.
Your pets lick their butts.

Other people's houses have beer in them.
Mmmmmm beeeerrrrr....

Here's to out of town friends.  Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Missing Persons

What a difference a month makes.  Those of you trying to follow the veiled mill updates deserve some news, after the most recent -- because everything old is new again.   

When we last checked in, some of the Readership were condemning my strategy of remaining invisible to the New Brass, and the joke's on you.  Because both of these yo-yos have been voted off of our show.

In a murder-suicide, she sent Crazy packing, then followed him by about a week.  And we are right back where we started from.  She held a new record, in fact, for shortest term in that chair.  We now choose it by lottery, if you're playing. 

The Big Project I am Unqualified to Run (the B-PUR) continues to hang on without showing any signs of progress.  I don't know why I chose Miss Haversham for this paragraph -- I guess because it was a Great Expectation and went all berserkers.  And because a picture of Karen Ann Quinlan seemed mean.

Poor B-PUR has no idea that it was completely eclipsed by B-PICS, The Big Project I Inherited from my Co-Shirker -- who, if I ever see him again gets a kick in the throat.  About B-PICS, I can say very little.  My Ace in the Hole is reminding the customer that they insisted I manage it.

I have a meeting with Customer Who Wants Me Dead the week I get back.  I think quite seriously about never going back.  This may also be what keeps me from booking the west coast trip -- because I don't want to be stuck with it if I am no longer in the traveling-to-the-west-coast business.

I must not be wearing the right shoulder scarves.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Day in Pompeii

I began collecting catastrophes quite young.  One of the first in the collection was the destruction of Pompeii in 79.  1900 years after it happened (that MCMLXXIX, what a mouth full)  my Latin project was a no-walls diorama with smoldering Vesuvius in the background, and on the road in forced perspective, Army men I had covered in tape, stick side out, rolled in sand, then spray-painted gray.    Moerere mortui qui sunt in plateis.

Yesterday, on something of a whim, I decided to spend  my day off  touring "A Day in Pompeii" at the Science Museum.

There is no "good time" to visit a Science Museum if you want to avoid buses full of teenagers -- or worse, PRE-teenagers -- but I hoped that Friday afternoon this close to a holiday break might.... oh, who am I kidding.  They filled the room, with their "oh my god, you guys," and their "Dude"s and giggling at statues' penises, but really, they were mostly harmless.  Just loud.  The poor docents tried to get them excited about "being an archeologist for a day," but all they were interested in was the gift shop and getting a Sobe.

So I turned my mind off to them, and concentrated on standing in front of the very things I had become so familiar with from every "amazing true life disaster" stories I had ever gobbled up.

This was not one of them -- though this is often the illustration you'll see when you crack a Pompeii overview. "Cave Canem," the Beware of Dog mosaic, was also not present.  Nor were many of the fresco sections on exhibit of the erotic kind, which is also typical of what was uncovered (har har) in the dig, but not often exhibited.  There were some there, all right, but if it wasn't on the students' worksheet, they weren't going to spend time on it.  One student was overheard imitating their teacher, in a goofy doi-doi voice, "If you're going to get anything out of this, you're going to have to read things."  Boys giggled, "yeh, right."  which I was pleased to hear kids still say.

I have noticed recently, a recurring question of small kids to their adult keepers, which is, "Is this real?"  Maybe we said that too, a little smarter than children of an earlier century who took faerie photos at face value and knew that Santa preferred Coca-Cola to milk.  (I mixed those time periods - don't write letters).  I think that if we asked "Is this real?" we meant, "pinch me I'm dreaming."  In a world where everything can be simulated, and a small child can't read gallery notes in dim lighting, "Is this real"  is an early attempt at critical thinking -- especially when faced with a writhing collection of fused skeletons, some of them smaller than you.

Stand around long enough and you'll learn that adult keepers do not read gallery notes either, as a dozen misunderstandings of what the castings are were passed along to new generations.  But let me add, in their defense, that there was very little science in this science museum exhibit, and most of it was written on the wall in this museum famous for its hands-on exploration of how things work.  A representation of how casts were made, and how they remain preserved would have helped make that more clear. A digital animation of the destruction played in a loop, but without any explanation of how this eruption was different from other eruptions.  Most disappointing to me was the lack of detail on the dig itself -- a project with a 250 year timeline of its own.

But oh well, meet things where they are, not where they are not, and enjoy being in the presence of that which is real, and no longer a picture in a book:  the tethered dog, the loose pig, Man on the Staircase, the Embracing Couple.  Everyday items from antiquity are enough of a wonder, though I tend to think more about how the lot is quilt-wrapped up, inventoried, and shipped around.  How an archeologist decides how a handful of bronze fittings become a reconstructed scale, or how they determined what that mother-of-pearl spoon was used for.  I want footnotes.  Ok, I guess I want hyperlinks.  Is this real?  How do we know?

Time your visit to see the OmniMax "Ring of Fire" film in the same time frame.  I missed it, but hung out in the Theatre of Electricity, which is always entertaining, if not fully informative either.  I could have stayed home and watched this for free.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

So I went to Wegman's.....

Mike asked, "Have you been to Wegman's?  Do they have them up there?"  Yes, Wegman's has infiltrated, and has an aggressive expansion plan, but right now is found in Northborough, MA only... about 10 miles from my place.  This is not close enough to become my grocery store, and the finest minds on my board of directors had advised they would not go on opening weekend... or for several weekends.  They also advised me not to watch The Ring alone.  I don't always listen, but I had not yet been moved to visit Wegman's.

Now that I reduced my grocery buying to under 10 staple goods, that I can almost program a robot to select through a series of If/Then statements, I can't get interested in Event Shopping, such as that celebrated by Wegmans and its loyal shoppers.

This is not a review of Wegmans.  I was not there long enough to form an opinion, other than "I can't breathe," and "where is the emergency stop on this ride?"  It is a review of me in Wegmans.

Due to a series of unfortunate career choices, the next couple of weeks are about to be full of the least interesting area of my life, so I thought I would use today to get some other areas attended to -- namely, food, shelter, Christmas shopping.   Down to Dudley (I wasn't kidding about that), then to Christmas Trees Shops in Shrewsbury for something terribly clever to put my gifts in.

Don't you just... love a bargain?  

Christmas Tree Shops (always in the plural, please, and with the invisible W) on the first weekend was certainly crowded, but fairly subdued.  It does no good to get to CTS "early," because the inventory changes all the time.  But people do get more desperate and territorial in the 2nd and 3rd weekends, so I needed to get in and out as efficiently as possible.  I had no plan at all to go to Wegmans.

I blame the sign.   

The Northborough Crossing is not on Rt 9.  But the sign is.
Now that's just sneaky.  Or brilliant.

With a low fuel warning dinging at me, I decided to give the Market to end all Markets a try.  It was all about this lamb stew I was going to try in the crockpot, the belief that they would have a better selection than my local, and the sign said it was right over there....  

I am no stranger to SUPER supermarkets, or precious shopping experiences.  I lived through the 80s, remember - the polished stones under the raw fish at J. Bildners, the minimalist shelving of Units, the Mass Ave Bread & Circus.  So I can tell you that we have seen Wegmans before.  What it is doing differently is being every grocery store that ever turned a young urbanites head all in one building.

Hurry!  Hurry!  Hurry!  All under One Big Top ~~ the greatest grocery gimmicks on earth!

Start with a Central Market as your shell.  Standing empty, they look very much like a BJs or a Home Depot.
Devote one end to being Marche.  Only, New Englanders will not move as slowly as Europeans do, so it needs to be a little more self-serve cafeteria-ish... like a Roche Brothers.  Be sure to have plenty of bulk bins, like Whole Foods,  and quirky boutique brands like Trader Joes.  Note the bright yellow "We're just the local Green Grocer" signs that feel one smiley short of Wal-Mart, and "Club priced" meats for the folks who just journeyed across the parking lot from BJs.  Lots of little samples everywhere are real crowd-pleasers, even Stop and Shop knows that.

Now: cram it full of people and make the aisles too small for carriages, like we are used to at CVS.  Artificially shorten the distance from door to counter, like Dunkin Donuts does, and now you are really in a place where things are HAPPENING.

How can you NOT buy out their inventory of lamb?? 

It really was a nice selection.  It was just more than I wanted to pay.  But of course, paying more than you want to is part of event grocery shopping.  You work hard for the money, and why can't you have those savory cheese straws if you want them?  That bread looks awesome.  It's $5.99, but smell it!  I was plowed between carts and jostled by couples, and overwhelmed by bread in 3 places 10 self-serve bars of one kind or another, and... really, it was a Christmas Tree aftershock, I think.  In a 5 year old, we just call this a meltdown.

I lasted about 5 minutes.  My car's exhaust system was still pinging and clanging when I returned to the safety of it

I'll take you there when you visit, just for something to do.  We can marvel at why such a top-shelf grocery is the anchor of a shopping plaza that includes Dress Barn and Pay-Less, and how in the world it competes with BJs  in the same complex.  Let's go at 7am or after midnight, and not on a Saturday in December. 

I found this picture while working on this post.  It is not meant to be a concluding statement.  I just love it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

...when she finally concluded at the end by summarizing....

There ought to be something profound to say at the end of National Blog Post Month.  Ok, profundity is a stretch, but something meaningful anyway.  What's it all about, etc.

It has not been easy to make space for it every night -- reading other people's finds on the Internet are always more interesting than anything I think I might say about them, and there are plenty of topics I did not get to this month that I had listed ou on my little listie.

I thought for sure there would be an "Occupy" commentary.  I need to get back in the election swing for Decision 2012, but I felt like it was all being said.  Or tweeted.  Or photoshopped.  Or videoed.

I wanted to explore what goes on in the Fellowship Tract League -- the pamphlet people.  A lot, I discovered, but their own website covers it, really.  They make a tract in ASL.  I cock my head.

The guy in the center is reading "Porn XXX."  He super-sized.

I had some art-nostic opinions about the new Walton-funded art museum in Arkansas, but I think NPR got to them first.  Or maybe that's where I got them in the first place.

After learning my hiking boots had been retired by New Balance, I fantasized George Mallory trying to find a new alpine hat for his next Base Camp visit. That scene amused me until I was home, then I was done with it.  The way that story really ends is that I found the 2007 model (mine are 1999, all right - I admit it), which has also been retired, and bought 2 pair.  If I am still hiking at 60, please teleport me to New Balance so I can show off these shoes.

Push came to shove during the holiday week and I had to borrow from other sources in order to both unplug for vacation and fulfill this inconsequential obligation.  They were my sources, though, so it's cool.

I am always interested in reading the site traffic report, and will have to see what happened over the past month.  Besides the NaBlo traffic, I am grateful to the Non-Fiction Class at Plymouth State U for their interest and feedback.  I had nothing profound to say to them either about what motivates me to keep blogging -- particularly in the dark, anonymously, about nothing of much significance whatsoever.

I guess because it is there.

Thanks for supporting the bloggers in your life.  We do what we can to break up the day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Double bubble

A loyal reader asks:

So what am I supposed to call the stuff, anyway? Seltzer? Soda Water? Sparkling Water? Club Soda? Tonic? Our favorite: "Fizzy Water." And is there actually a difference, or are these just different words (regionalisms?) for exactly the same thing?

I am pleased to oblige.  

First, there was Water.  And it was Good.
Because I stopped listening to science around 6th grade, I believe that you should theoretically be able to make water out of air.  I realize that's not true -- it requires some curly-que'd flasks and a thing that goes buzz -- but water you know.

Now gas it up: your water needs more elements in it.  It's name is Legion, but I believe there are connotative differences in the term you choose.  The origins of the terms themselves are covered in delightful detail on Wikipedia.  Pay them or don't pay them; that's their business.  We were talking about me.

Seltzer  conjures up the art deco spray bottle on the bar that Nick Charles handled so well.  Because of that, to me, seltzer is the hard bubbles, the dangerous bottle that has to be opened like cracking a safe.  We say it so it rhymes with salsa, and as I have mentioned, Polah makes the craziest Seltzah flavahs evah.  It is in fact the same thing as sparkling water. but sparkling water is softer:  Pelligrino, for example.  Seltzer in the Social Register.
Perrier is too oily, far too soft, and is mineral water anyway. Why accept nature's bubbles when you can trick them out?

"Fizzy Water" is accurate (and charming).  It will get you through a language barrier.  It could get you served a bromide.

Bromo Seltzer - is your remedy for not having drunk seltzer.  It is Tylenol + bicarb + citric acid.  And you deserve it.  Alka-Seltzer is bicarb + potassium bicarbonate + citric acid, and indistinguishable from Efferdent.   

Barley water is what Mary Poppins never smells of.   The more you learn about British foods, the more you understand the Revolution.

Club Soda contains added salt.  Why?  I have no idea.  Club Soda is what you say on the airplane, or in any establishment where you know they will not know what seltzer is.  It comes out of the gun at the bar.  They have it.

Tonic is not club soda.  Tonic is the vile mosquito repellent so undrinkable that is requires gin to make it go down.  (And they do play nicely together once you introduce them.)  Tonic is carbonated water + qunine, and according to Wikipedia, it glows in UV light.  You try it; I'm not gonna.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Seltzer Madness

Ever try to buy seltzer in a grocery store outside of New England?  Are you right now asking, "what's seltzer?"  Can't feature what a seltzer aisle even looks like?  No SUH! 

This story will amuse you even more.  There is a new sheriff in town over at the Polar Seltzer, and by the looks of it, s/he was recently transferred from Yankee Candle.  Because this is a terrible idea.

You don't have to taste it to know it is a terrible idea.  But I did taste it, and I am still resentful, weeks later.  (I am also on day 27 of this blog-a-thon, and even Jerry Lewis eventually loosened his bow tie.  I'll write about anything at this point, but that press release opener...?  Manna.)

A gateway to seltzer?  Why does Polar need to push its bubbly deliciousness on anyone?  Because they just bought a bottling facility in Georgia (from Winn-Dixie, saints preserve us) and the South needs more than carbonation to get its drink on.

Premium seltzers.  Seltzer costs 88 cents a half gallon.  It's hardly premium.  And in spite of everything else we learned in the Rich & Famous 80s, "gross" is not a synonym for "gourmet."

The season's most beloved aromas.  This is not tea.  This is seltzer.  As a mixer, I might buy it (metaphorically.  Not literally.  not at half price). 

A healthier choice of refreshment.   Because if you can't drink it, it can't hurt you.

Granny Smith Apple :  Jolly Rancher plus a facial masque without any of the afterglow of Woodchuck.

Cinnamon:  a candle over ice.  How refreshing!

Candy Cane:  

Pumpkin Spice: Lemme tell you something, pumpkin.  I have been your biggest champion.  But you are this close to getting kicked out of this car.  Settle.  Down . 

Eggnog:  now you've made me mad.

Predicting the Cinco de Mayo flavors:
Pinata full of Chiclets
Dulce de Leche
Margarita Lime... ok, maybe not so bad.  They may have gotten to me.

Hope you're enjoying National Blogpost Month.
Here's another NaBloPoMo participant for you to enjoy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Heroes on the run

#37 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true. 

Let me explain the differences between Run, Joe Run and Run, Joey, Run.  They are subtle.

If you are looking for the ballad of teen lovers, sung to the baseline of Shaft... or just really like primitive music videos (see... red symbolizes blood, man) you want to go here.

If you want to explore why so many of Saturday morning's line-up was made up of fugitives, stay right where you are.

Run, Joe, Run
Amnesty-seeking Canine GI wigs out during a training exercise and attacks his trainer.... or does he?  To escape the gas, he takes to the run.  And we are to believe that his $200 bounty is enough to make him vulnerable to fortune seekers.  Take a Lude, Joe - you are totally harshing.  Anyway, Joe becomes the stranger who lopes to town, and helps others as he helps himself.  I need the readership to explain how this accusation against Joe came about, since his own trainer is trying to clear his name.  Total Television is silent on this account.

I believe that's William Cannon on the opening narration.  Expository intros were  in vogue, as we have addressed before.  Give that Tarzan a new listen, too, and tell me if that is Richard Chamberlain.  It would explain everything about my need to commit to memory.  Tarzan, however, is no fugitive.  It is easy to confuse him with

"unjustly accused" of killing some drug-dealers he takes up the baton dropped by his cultural cousin Joe while on the run from the university's bounty hunters.  That's what I said.   

Why was Kung Fu on the run?  I couldn't remember.    "I like to think he killed a man; it's the Romantic in me..."  Caine had to leave China, but it wasn't for the glamor of working the railroad.  That was just a bonus.  If you ever wondered how s-l-o-w-l-y a prime time drama could move, watch a little Kung Fu.  Let me know if you make it through this clip.

The Incredible Hulk was not a Saturday show either --  CBS put their spring replacement into the fall season on Friday nights, first in a strong double bill with Wonder Woman, then later as a weird opening choice for the Dukes. [:02 DIXIE].  "The creature is wanted for a murder he didn't commit..."  blah blah you know it by now and the "raging spirit that dwells within him."

You know who they mean....
Hell hath no fury like the decorated vet scorned....

Setting the stage for this crew: 
armed and bloody well for hireThe A Team is grumpily pursued by a full bird Colonel who apparently can't delegate enough to get some NonComs to do his dirty work for him... like they did in the Nam, brother.

Hope you're enjoying National Blogpost Month.
Here's another NaBloPoMo participant for you to enjoy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Practically perfect afternoon

Someone is about to confiscate the tambourines.
I don't mean to suggest by this title that there were flaws in the afternoon.  If there was anything less-than-perfect, it was that I had to end it so early, due to living so far out and needing so much to do before returning to my routine life.  I certainly could have extended.

Some things you do just to blog about them.  Some things you do for the officially sanctioned freedom of singing "Sister Suffragette" at the top of your voice in a public place.  This was the latter.

Sing-along Mary Poppins at Arlington's beautiful Regent Theatre has one more showing this weekend, and you need to get down there to help skew the average age to those who can actually read the lyrics... and BOO the Bankers when they chant "Think of the Foreclosures!!"

It is a damn shame we did not have this theatre event in my youth, because I would have been there every weekend, in an era where you certainly could afford to go to the movies every weekend (and a horror flick screamer was 94 cents).  What is also a damn shame is that kids today have to be so disaffected so young, because this is best enjoyed by a 7th or 8th grader (what we would have done with Grease!) who would be Too Cool for The Musicool these days.  The audience at our showing was mostly under 10, mostly girls, mostly unable to sing-along.

But boy howdee, could they bang a tambourine. 

The owner of the Regent -- an exurbent Boomer with a fleece jacket featuring the dogs' poker table -- provided each participant with a bag of supplies:  tambourine, glo-sticks (for the rooftop fireworks), spoon (for sugar), tiny mug (for tea party on the ceiling), and tuppence (for choking on).  The film comes with a few instructions, but the tambourines caught on right away.

Props missing were cannon (for chiming the hour on a film that runs 139 minutes), rotten eggs for throwing at the Prime Minister, the Time Warp, and rum punch (hic).  But the kids held up fine.  There was one meltdown as Mary Poppins prepared to leave (after the longest week in cinema history).  Or maybe the poor tyke finally figured out what suffrage was. 

Best synopsis ever, from imdb:  "A magic nanny comes to work for a cold banker's unhappy family."
(Do not confuse with "A failed novice comes to work for a bitter captain's unhappy family."  That opens in December) .

At the earlier showing, the 2nd grader in full Jolly Holiday get-up no doubt won the costume contest.  At our showing were 2 boys who made knickers by shoving their pants into their socks, and 20 other kids who just took the owner up on his offer to walk across the stage.

He read us several interesting trivia points, which 8th graders (ok, Dodie and I) would have enjoyed -- then we would have stayed after and begged him to screen Oliver! next.  The little ones weren't listening, but we adults enjoyed the tip of looking for men in drag in the Nanny Applicants' line.

If it has been a while since you watched this film straight through, particularly with 20 5 year-olds, you'll want to prepare them for the long talky bits of insufferable Mr Banks.  You'll want to prepare yourself for how LONG the Jolly Holiday is.  I chose "I Love to Laugh" as my bathroom break.  You'll want to be fully refreshed for the Dance of the Chimney Sweeps. 

On this Small Business Saturday, this is the event we chose - and you can still get in on Rolf and Lisl's turn in the gazebo.  The Regent is a fantastic independent venue of music, theatre, comedy, and film in the heart of Arlington, MA. If you can't get here, activate the closed captions on your own home theatre and dream up your own props for any of the films mentioned above, or perhaps Wizard of Oz,  Newsies, or Hello Dolly.  The kids love Dolly Levi.

This is my favorite Mary Poppins bit on the Internet.  It has been around a while, but still delivers.

Hope you're enjoying National Blogpost Month.
Here's another NaBloPoMo participant for you to enjoy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Home on the range

Where the heck is Sisterdale, TX?

2 hrs west of Austin, or 1 hr North of San Antonio, but in either case you will not find it in the God's Own Dark that falls over the Hill Country by 5pm.  Arriving after dark added to the effect of opening the door the following morning and seeing the Paniolo Ranch for the first time like Dorothy in Munchkinland.

I'll zoom into that landscape for you:

well....There's been a drought.  Sadly, that lake in the lower right is now just a hole in the ground.  In happier times, that lake looks like this.  So we did miss the misty morning cup of coffee watching birds over the lake.  Instead I was treated to a herd of deer sucking off the last puddle, and that in itself was a scene.

We did not get the sweep of the Milky Way which hangs low over the open landscape.  Instead, we were treated to an early morning prairie style downfall, of the kind that makes Texans dance in the streets.  We stood in the door and watched it for a while; it was more beautiful than  the constellations.

We passed on the winery tours, which are a central activity of this region, just because we were too relaxed to get back into the car, and we had only a few days to hurry up and rejuvenate.

Paniolo bills itself as a Bed & Breakfast Spa.  Meaning breakfast is served and there are spa services. It advertises Wedding Services... in that it has space for an outdoor event, but it is a haul for the caterers and decorators. It is mostly a rustic retreat and you should approach it as such.  The circled building in the satellite view above is the house where we stayed, about half a mile from the main house -- it sounds like a lot, but that's 2500 feet.  You can make it.  If you can't, take the golf cart.  We were afraid of driving it into a ditch -- and besides, we came to get healthy.

Armed with groceries for a 3-day healthy spa menu (and 3 bottles of wine -- we're not stoics, for heaven's sake), we took to the Hills, from whence cometh our help.  Why is whence a statement of place?  Shouldn't it be wherece?  Unplugged (mostly - we had a DVD player and a TV in every room, but we couldn't figure out the cable, and the 2 movies we picked were both disappointments) and well-fed (mmm... kaaaale....), and far from the owner's 4 dogs (really - rethink that when you run a retreat), we began our annual redefinition of our lives and their promise over rounds of Scrabble -- both of which seem deeper to us as the wine bottles empty.

I did not get to play GEISHAS, but I did have it on the tray.   

When you are scheduling your spa services, you'll want to listen carefully when they ask "did ya'll want to be booked at the same time?" or you might end up in couples massage.  Or you might anyway, because the "spa" is just a small treatment room of 2 beds and a whirlpool, with an uncurtained window to the outdoor courtyard, where on a busier weekend, some other guests might have been having their half-day spa lunch.  But none of that was happening, and we only glimpsed other guests (the deer were more prevalent) so we said "meh" and got to it.  Not the best massage I've ever had, but let me disclaim that my therapist was also running the place on her own in the owner's absence.  She had checked us in, brought our breakfast, and would have cleaned the room, but we gave her an out.

If darkness and wilderness makes you feel more "yikes" than "aahh," you may want something more corporate in your Hill Country experience.  If you wanted to swim and boat, well, you may need to wait another 10 years for the Paniolo to get back into gear.  If you wanted to work out, the fitness room is depressing; walk the grounds instead.  If you hate dogs, book the house we did.

I am not linking to them, because this post sounds like a less than ideal review and I don't want to give them the impression we didn't enjoy ourselves.  We did, very much.  maybe I just don't want you to find it more easily than we did.

Sisterdale got a dance hall in it.  Pack your Wranglers.  

Hope you're enjoying National Blogpost Month.
Here's another NaBloPoMo participant for you to enjoy.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A typical story

stamps for fun and profit
In my workplace, we frequently send Thank You gifts to customers for various reasons -- mostly variations on Thanks for Not Dropping Us Like a Bad Marriage.  For Sarbannes-Oxley/industry history reasons, these gifts are not of substantial value.  They are not of any value, really,  but they are what we have to offer, so we make do.

I try to gussy them up a bit to hide their schlockiness by wrapping them, or attaching the gushy Thank You Note for which I have always been famous.

That pile of corporate swag has been sitting on the corner for my desk for an extra week for one reason only:  I don't have enough Thank You Notes for the full package.  Someone said this was a fairly typical dilemma than would occur in my life... but not theirs.

It's not a simple case of buying more notes -- They have them at the CVS and I know right where they are.  I can not expense them; they have to come out of my own conscious, so no I don't spend a lot on them.

Not everyone who gets a gift gets thank you note.  These things are hand crafted, and I don't have all day.

They are truly handwritten, but I have some stock text that I use -- one for the project manager, one for the customer, for her boss, for her staff, for the IT boy who grudgingly came to every status call and 10 minutes in would say, "Do you still need me?"  I realized that I was in danger of sending the same notes to people a couple of times a year if I didn't keep track of them, of course.  So I made a library of them.

So first I have to get the cards, them pull from the library, make sure I am not repeating myself (though I don't mind switching off within the same customer, with just a little tweaking), make sure I am not sending them a gift I have already sent and... that it is appropriate to the rank of the recipient and their role in this effort we are quote-quote celebrating.  And those do not always correlate.

This is how to complicate a task beyond reason, and to the point where you can say you don't have time to do it.    It's really not as hard as it sounds.

Hope you're enjoying National Blogpost Month.
Here's another NaBloPoMo participant for you to enjoy.